The ATOM Project spends 2019 on global effort to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world, pledges to continue efforts in 2020

December 20, 2019

The ATOM Project Honourary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov in London

The year 2019 was a difficult one for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez told a high-level UN General Assembly session that “a qualitative nuclear arms race is underway.” He also warned of rising tensions and lack of trust between nuclear-weapons nations.

The internationally recognised Doomsday Clock remained in 2019 at 11:58 p.m., its closest setting to nuclear annihilation since 1947. And the issue was so urgent in 2019 that Pope Francis told the UN General Assembly: “There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the [nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT], in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.”

It was with that urgency that The ATOM Project and its Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov spent the last 12 months spreading the message of nuclear disarmament and remain committed to the cause in 2020.

The ATOM Project is a global civic initiative conceived by First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to unite global opinion towards global nuclear disarmament and a permanent end to nuclear weapons testing. More than 300,000 people around the world have signed The ATOM Project petition for the world to ensure the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (third from left), First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (third from right) at the awarding of the Nazarbayev Prize

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (third from left), First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (third from right) at the awarding of the Nazarbayev Prize

Kuyukov has dedicated his life and work to nuclear disarmament. He was born without arms as a result of his parent’s exposure to some of the more than 450 nuclear weapons tests conducted by the Soviet Union near what is now the city of Semey, in eastern Kazakhstan.

Kuyukov has become an internationally recognised nonproliferation activist and artist whose work is dedicated to capturing the horror of nuclear weapons. He travels the globe on behalf of The ATOM Project, sharing the nuclear disarmament message and his artwork with world leaders, legislators and international organisations.

On the Aug. 29 International Day against Nuclear Tests, The ATOM Project and Kuyukov called for a global moment of silence honoring nuclear weapons testing victims.

The United Nations adopted Aug. 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests at the urging of Kazakhstan to mark the date in 1991 that Nazarbayev shut down the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.

Kuyukov speaking during events at Scottish Parliament

Kuyukov speaking during events at Scottish Parliament

Also in August, Nazarbayev presented the Nazarbayev Prize for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World and Global Security to relatives of the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano, who passed away in July, and to the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.

The Nazarbayev Prize was established in 2016 and is awarded to those who have made significant contributions to global nuclear disarmament and security.

Nur-Sultan also hosted in August a conference of representatives from the nuclear-weapons-free zones of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, South Pacific, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

Later in the year, Kuyukov spent time spreading the message and presenting his artwork in the United Kingdom.

The ATOM Project Honourary Ambassador Kuyukov in Tokyo

The ATOM Project Honourary Ambassador Kuyukov in Tokyo

“Kazakhstan should be particularly commended for bringing home in such a real way the humanitarian consequences of testing and of nuclear war, because you got the UN, including the U.K., to unanimously support the establishment of this day, which is a major step on the road to recognising the absolutely disgusting nature of the most inhumane weapon you can imagine,” said Member of the House of Lords and Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) Baroness Susan Miller at an event with Kuyukov.

Kuyukov also unveiled three new paintings at the Scottish Parliament and held an exhibition in Manchester where he participated in a seminar on the humanitarian costs and dangers of nuclear weapons.

Exhibition of Kuyukov's art in Tokyo

Exhibition of Kuyukov’s art in Tokyo

The ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador also traveled in 2019 to Tokyo where he met with survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. His paintings were also displayed at the “Kazakhstan-Japan: Path to a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World” conference at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

Kuyukov said he was particularly honored to show his work in Japan, a country that knows first-hand the horrors of nuclear weapons.

It is the experiences of 2019 and of a lifetime spent in pursuit of a nuclear-weapons-free world that continues to give Kuyukov and The ATOM Project hope for progress and the urgency to continue the effort in 2020.

“Humanity cannot forever live at two minutes until midnight on the Doomsday Clock. To eliminate the nuclear weapons threat, we must achieve global, unified nuclear disarmament. I and thousands of others have been striving for decades to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world and we have been joined by millions of ordinary people around the world. We will continue our efforts in 2020 for the sake of peace, for humanity and for a world free from the nuclear threat,” Kuyukov said.